The Hot 100 2014: Glasgow mourns some of its inventive theatremakers

The year we lost theatre-makers David MacLennan, Adrian Howells and Ian Smith

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The Hot 100 2014: Glasgow mourns some of its inventive theatremakers

Adrian Howells

Between that referendum and controversial omissions from the funding awards, 2014 has been a dynamic year for theatre. Sadly, it is also marked by the deaths of three of Scotland’s most popular and inventive artists: David MacLennan, Adrian Howells and Ian Smith. The breadth of theatrical endeavour in Glasgow is encapsulated in them, from Smith’s surrealistic blend of performance art and broad comedy, through Howells’ intimate shows to MacLennan’s success as the founder of A Play, A Pie and A Pint.

MacLennan had already secured a place in Scottish theatre folklore through his involvement with 7:84, the radical political theatre-makers and inventors of ‘the ceilidh play’ (a blend of script and traditional highland entertainment), but his work as artistic director of A Play A Pie and A Pint was another revolution. Now producing 38 new plays a year, PPP captured the imagination of its audience with a lunchtime format mixing food and art.

Ian Smith, for many years the National Review of Live Art’s genial host, was the acceptable face of experimental performance: whether organising public happenings or bearing his soul in a series of solo pieces, Smith affirmed the continuity between Sid James and Marina Abramovic. Not only did he produce sublime performances, he supported younger artists and writers.

Adrian Howells was a pioneer of intimate performance. From his alter-ego, Adrienne, to his collaboration with the NTS, Lifeguard, Howells pushed the boundaries between life and art, encouraging an emotional honesty and theatrical intimacy.

Scotland is poorer without them all, but their diverse legacies provide a foundation for the development of performance into the 21st century.

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